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  • Supervisors ask city to reconsider plan to charge unincorporated residents more for Tucson Water

    Aug 12, 2021 | Read More News
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    In response to the Tucson Mayor and Council’s decision to move ahead with a plan to charge unincorporated County residents more for water service, the Board of Supervisors has suggested alternatives that don’t unfairly target one group of water customers.Watering with hose

    “We are working to resolve this issue in a way that protects water supplies while not disproportionally placing the costs on one class of water customer,” Board Chair and Dist. 3 Supervisor Sharon Bronson said.   

    Among the requests Supervisors made of city leaders are:

    • Rescinding recent actions that created a differential rate system
    • Requesting the city honor past commitments made as the leader of regional water resource management
    • Allowing the county to participate in a legitimate city cost-of-service study
    • Committing to a rate structure based on cost of service, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries
    A 1979 Intergovernmental Agreement between the city and County established the arrangement of Pima County providing regional wastewater services and Tucson providing water for the region. The agreement also established a commitment to equitable treatment of customers in both jurisdictions.

    “Pima County, as the single management entity, is committed to the concept of equal service for all users of the metropolitan system without regard to jurisdictional location,” the 1979 agreement reads.

    Supervisors also requested city leaders establish a Water Sustainability Fund to supplement the water supply for the region.  The county also would agree to create a Water Sustainability fund and jointly use the collections to purchase “drought insurance” by acquiring Central Arizona Project surface water supplies and recharging that water in regional aquifers to be available for future use, if necessary.

    The Board passed a resolution in April opposing Tucson Water’s plan to charge differential service rates for customers outside the Tucson city limits. The city later passed a differential water rate structure but singled out only those customers in the unincorporated areas for higher rates.

    County officials were concerned that such a rate structure was enacted without clear justification or without conducting a cost-of-service analysis. Additionally, the rate structure combined with the city’s policy of denying the extension of water service to new customers outside the city limits would effectively force new development to acquire groundwater drilling permits further diminishing groundwater supplies.

    Read County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry’s Aug. 10, 2021 memo on the differential water rates and the 1979 agreement. Additional background is available in this memo from June 7, 2021.